iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






HIS IceQ RADEON X1650 XT AGP Turbo 256MB


  1. Introduction
  2. Video cards' features
  3. Testbed configurations, benchmarks
  4. Test results
  5. Conclusions

OK... It's Spring 2007. ATI R600 is round the corner. All attention is paid to PCI-E platforms, fortunately there are a lot of chipsets and motherboards with this new interface. It's time to forget about AGP, but we suddenly recall it.

The last AGP chord was played a year ago, in March 2006. So we stopped reviewing such products. Indeed, this share of the market has grown thin for the last years, AGP is evidently getting extinct. Nevertheless, a new product has appeared in this sector, namely RADEON X1950 PRO. So we decided to play another final chord :).

That market segment used to offer only incarnations of old technologies and functions up to now. If there had been such a card as GeForce 6800 Ultra or the like (they are rather cheap now in the market of second-hand hardware), all GeForce 7600 cards with various suffixes would have been intermediate solutions on the level of GeForce 6800, 6800LE, 6800GT. So there is no point in analyzing them.

But X1950 PRO is actually the most powerful accelerator with the AGP interface these days. We'll test this thesis with a couple of tests below, keeping in mind that GeForce 7800 GS, 6800 Ultra and RADEON X850 XT PE used to be the fastest accelerators there. But the latter did not support SM 3.0. That's a topical issue, so it can be ignored.

Besides, we'll have a look at the X1650 XT with the same interface. Both cards come from HIS, a famous manufacturer, Hong-Kong partner of ATI/AMD (by the way, when ATI and AMD merged, the latter stopped paying much attention to its partners, so there appeared problems with shipments and availability of products in Russian stores. AMD bought the Canadian company and promised not to ruin the streamlined structure. But we can see an unpleasant tendency - a number of popular video cards are disappearing from the Russian market).

Let's return to video cards. As I have already mentioned, both products are manufactured by HIS and both of them operate at increased frequencies (hence the Turbo suffix). These are not the only advantages of these cards. Both products are equipped with popular cooling systems from Arctic Cooling, they are very efficient and noiseless. Hence the IceQ suffix.

OK, let's examine the cards.

Video Cards

  • GPU: RADEON X1950 PRO (RV570)
  • Interface: AGP 4x/8x
  • GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 620/620 MHz (nominal — 580/580 MHz)
  • Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 740 (1480) MHz (nominal — 700 (1400) MHz)
  • Memory bus width: 256bit
  • Vertex processors: 8
  • Pixel processors: 36
  • Unified processors: -
  • Texture processors: 12
  • ROPs: 12
  • Dimensions: 220×100×33 mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).
  • PCB color: red
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU
  • Output connectors: 2×DVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.
  • VIVO: not available
  • TV-out: integrated into GPU.
  • Multi-GPU operation: not available

HIS IceQ RADEON X1650 XT AGP Turbo 256MB
  • GPU: RADEON X1650 XT (RV560)
  • Interface: AGP 4x/8x
  • GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 600/600 MHz (nominal — 600/600 MHz)
  • Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 730 (1460) MHz (nominal — 700 (1400) MHz)
  • Memory bus width: 128bit
  • Vertex processors: 8
  • Pixel processors: 24
  • Unified processors: -
  • Texture processors: 8
  • ROPs: 8
  • Dimensions: 170×100×33 mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).
  • PCB color: red
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU
  • Output connectors: 2×DVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.
  • VIVO: not available
  • TV-out: integrated into GPU.
  • Multi-GPU operation: not available

HIS IceQ RADEON X1650 XT AGP Turbo 256MB
Each card is equipped with 256 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in 8 chips (X1950 PRO) and 4 chips (X1650 XT) on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 1.2ns memory access time, which corresponds to 800 (1600) MHz.

Comparison with the reference design, front view
Reference card RADEON X1950 PRO
HIS IceQ RADEON X1650 XT AGP Turbo 256MB
Reference card RADEON X1650 XT

Comparison with the reference design, back view
Reference card RADEON X1950 PRO
HIS IceQ RADEON X1650 XT AGP Turbo 256MB
Reference card RADEON X1650 XT

Both cards are evidently based on corresponding PCI-E cards. But they have a RIALTO PCIE-to-AGP bridge to translate the built-in PCIE controller into corresponding commands of the AGP controller. This bridge gets quite hot, mind it. But not hot enough to need its own cooler. The chip is protected by a housing made of soft heat conductor.

There are no other differences.

All these cards have TV-Out with a unique jack. You will need a special bundled adapter to output video to a TV-set via S-Video or RCA. You can read about the TV-Out in more detail here.

Analog monitors with d-Sub (VGA) interface are connected with special DVI-to-d-Sub adapters. Maximum resolutions and frequencies:

  • 240 Hz Max Refresh Rate
  • 2048 × 1536 × 32bit ×85Hz Max - analog interface
  • 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz Max - digital interface

What concerns MPEG2 playback features (DVD-Video), we analyzed this issue in 2002. Little has changed since that time. CPU load during video playback on all modern video cards does not exceed 25%. What concerns HDTV and other trendy video features, we are going to sort them out as soon as possible.

Both cards require additional power supply, so they have corresponding power connectors at their edges (note that P1950 has a 6-pin connector traditional for PCIE, while the P1650 card uses a 4-pin connector traditional for floppy drives). In case your PSU does not have cables with such connectors, the bundles include splitters to plug any cable with a Molex.

There is no need to describe cooling systems, we have examined these coolers from Arctic Cooling many times. You can read about them here.


Here is the bundled DVD that gives the card the Platinum suffix. I don't see anything special there to give the right for this title. Either an old game or software of little interest.

The bundle is rather ascetic. There are no bonuses, just a label and the above-mentioned DVD. The box contains User Manual, CD with drivers, component output adapter, external power splitter, two DVI-to-VGA adapters, S-Video cable.

HIS IceQ RADEON X1650 XT AGP Turbo 256MB
The bundle is almost the same, but there is only one DVi-to-VGA adapter, and the external power splitter is different.



The company changed the package design for expensive cards a year ago. Black-blue-azure colors. The box also got bigger. The box window that shows off the card is preserved. All bundled components are arranged into plastic sections. On the whole, it's quite a nice box.

HIS IceQ RADEON X1650 XT AGP Turbo 256MB

A traditional box for all products with IceQ. Blue colors, a window in the box to show off the card, plastic sections inside. Everything is stylish, thought-out, and nice-looking.

Installation and Drivers

Testbed configuration:

  • Athlon 64 (754Socket) based computer:
    • CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3700+ (L2=1024K)
    • Motherboard: Albatron K8Ultra-U Pro on ULi M1689
    • RAM: 2 GB DDR SDRAM 400MHz (CAS (tCL)=2.5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=3; Row Precharge (tRP)=3; tRAS=6)
    • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80GB SATA

  • Operating system: Windows XP SP2 DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitor: Dell 3007WFP (30").
  • Drivers: ATI CATALYST 7.2; NVIDIA Drivers 93.71.

VSync is disabled.

Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Splinter Cell Chaos Theory v.1.04 (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 3.0 (without HDR), maximum settings.

  • F.E.A.R. v.1.08 (Multiplayer) (Monolith/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, shaders 2.0, maximum test settings, Soft shadows disabled.

Video cards' performance

If you understand 3D graphics, you may draw your own conclusions from the diagrams below. If you are interested in our comments on test results, you may read them after each test. What concerns beginners and those who just started to look for a video card, we shall include some detailed explanations.

Firstly, you should look through our reference materials on modern video cards and their GPUs. Note operating frequencies, support for modern technologies (shaders), as well as a pipeline architecture.

ATI RADEON X1300-1600-1800-1900 Reference

NVIDIA GeForce 7300-7600-7800-7900-8800 Reference

Secondly, if you have just faced the problem of choosing a video card and are at a loss, our 3D-Video section offers articles about 3D basics (you will still have to understand them - when you run a game and open its options, you'll see such notions as textures, lighting, etc) as well as reviews of new products. There are just two companies that manufacture graphics processors: ATI (it has been recently bought by AMD and now bears the same name - AMD) and NVIDIA. So most information is divided into these two sections. We also publish monthly 3Digests that sum up all comparisons of video cards for various price segments. The February 2007 issue analyzed dependence of modern video cards on processors without the load of antialiasing and anisotropic filtering. The March 2007 issue did the same with AA and AF.

Thirdly, we'll have a look at the tests of video cards. They show that the X1950 PRO is the fastest AGP card to date. But even X1650 XT fares on the level of such old top products as GeForce 6800 Ultra and 7800 GS. Considering the sterling support for DX9 and SM 3.0, both cards are actually the best products in this class. These days, of course. We don't know about future video cards with the AGP interface and DX10 support.


Test results: F.E.A.R.

As we were pressed for time, we ran only two tests. But we used games that heavily load accelerators. So they can help us form the right impression of the new products.

This game shows well that the new products offer impressive performance. Similar PCI-E solutions are sometimes better, of course. But there is a reasonable explanation to it - different testbeds. All test results of PCI-E cards are taken from 3Digests, where we use a powerful testbed based on Intel Core2 Duo X6800.

Splinter Cell Chaos Theory (No HDR)

Test results: SCCT (No HDR)

The results are similar to the previous game. But this game has higher requirements to system resources besides video cards, so the difference between PCI-E and AGP models is bigger.


HIS IceQ III RADEON X1950 PRO AGP Turbo 256MB is a very interesting product. If the real price is not too much higher than for similar cards with the PCI-E interface, we can certainly recommend it to AGP users as the fastest 3D product.

HIS IceQ RADEON X1650 XT AGP Turbo 256MB is no less interesting, judging by its price and comparisons with other AGP offers from NVIDIA. We can see that the new product with sterling support for all modern DX9 functions for less than $150 outperforms previous top products. However, you should take into account that prices for those old AGP cards have dropped already. But you can hardly find new cards, you will have to look in the second-hand market.

On the whole, all the cards were stable, we had no gripes with their operation.

Watch the prices! And don't say that you were not warned. All conclusions may go to the dogs, if the prices are too high.

The choice is up to our readers, as always. We can only inform you about this or that product. But we do not give direct instructions which products to choose.

And here is one more thing that will be repeated in each review. Having decided to choose a 3D accelerator on your own (a video card in your computer), you should understand that you change one of the key components of your system unit, which may require additional configuration for better performance or you may have to enable some functions to achieve higher quality. This is not an end product, it's just a component. So you should understand that you'll have to learn 3D graphics basics in order to get maximum performance from a new video card. And some graphics as well. If you don't want to deal with it, you shouldn't upgrade your computer on your own: you'd better buy ready PCs with preconfigured software (you'll also have technical support by your system integrator), or game boxes, where no configuration is required, everything necessary is already configured in a game.

You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.

The following cards get the Original Design award (April):


HIS IceQ RADEON X1650 XT AGP Turbo 256MB

We express our thanks to
HIS Russia
and Tatiana Dromashko

for the provided video cards

PSU for the testbed was kindly provided by TAGAN

                               The Dell 3007WFP monitor for the testbeds was kindly provided by NVIDIA

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

May 7, 2007

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